Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Our journey has been difficult. We have fought sand storms, cold, and that never-ending heat. My back aches from the rocking motion of my camel. It is like riding on a slow moving boat pushed back and forth continually by repetitive and stern ocean waves. But, I am sure our inconveniences will be rewarded! We have put our hearts and time into this journey, because we are certain of the prophecies from the ancient scrolls.
The camels have done well, but like us they enjoy the breaks we often take and the people we meet along the way. When we pass through the many villages, the beasts become the center of attention for the children who try to feed them hay and anything else they can find.
The adults are filled with questions about our journey and our destination. They want to know where we come from. Their wide eyes reveal they are impressed with the distance we have traveled. We are glad to share with them the news of the Messiah and what we know from the ancient scrolls. Some consider us crazy, but many listen and wish they could go with us. They call it an adventure, but we know it is more…much more.
Night time is my favorite part of the day because of the brightness of the star in the east and the peace that comes from the quiet, disturbed only by the crackling fire and the occasional snort of a tired camel. The star is a constant reminder of the accuracy of the scrolls and a confirmation of our journey. Many people we have met have seen the unusually bright star in the east and wondered. They don’t know what it means, but are comforted by its beauty and marvel that its magnificence is not diminished by the light of day. When we started, it was low on the horizon, but it is rising and become brighter as we have drawn nearer to our destination, Bethlehem!
I lean back on the saddle I have been using as a pillow and enjoy the warmth of the fire. I am warm and content. My journal and mind are filling up with my notes. I make this entry under the light from the twinkling star-lit night.
Now, we are only one day out from Jerusalem. We hope to visit king Herod and celebrate with him the coming of the Messiah. The town is surely busy with activity and celebration even though it has taken us many months to get this far.
Our anticipation grows so much that we wake in the clearness of the night so we can arrive in Jerusalem early in the morning to seek audience with the king before we head off to Bethlehem only about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to the south of the capital city.
So I rise with the others, full of energy. We mount our ships of the desert, who seem to match our excitement to start moving again. This is going to be a good day. I can feel it!
The night is cold and the star brighter than ever! We hear music in the distance. As we approach the outskirts of Jerusalem, we are greeted by shepherds watching over their sheep. With wonder in their eyes they run up to our caravan and ask us the usual questions about us, our destination, and home.
I tell them the story of our journey and our wish to see the new baby king. They are polite and respectful and let us speak first. When we have a pause, they begin to talk fast and together as if they will burst if their words are not heard. Wonder and curiosity forces us to quickly dismount our camels and gather around them. They calm themselves and begin to talk one at a time. Then begins their beautiful story of the night’s events when the Messiah was born.
“We were in the field at night when we heard the sound of singing and joy and there was light all around us that lit up the countryside like it was daytime….only brighter.“
Then the next one speaks with equal intensity.“We were afraid! I turned my eyes toward the ground”
A third young man, a little older says,“The brightness was coming from an angel who told us to fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
“The angel told us to go to the city of David where we would find Christ the Lord and we would find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger.”
Another one talks before the older one finishes,”The music continued and many more angels appeared high in the night sky!”
It is starting to come all together for me. The older boy exclaims with confidence, “That star you have been following are angels. They began to sing again as your caravan approached us.”
The youngest one blurts out, “After the angels appeared to us, we left our flocks and raced towards Bethlehem. There we found a woman by the name of Mary and her husband Joseph and there in a manger was the baby they call Jesus.”
My heart pounds faster as I realize we now know the name of the king! His name is Jesus!
Their eyes are bright and they all nod their heads in agreement when the older shepherd boy slows down his words and says with tears in his eyes. “Our hearts are changed! We can’t stop talking about that night and the baby Jesus. We have told everyone! Even Mary rejoiced at our story!”
The visit with the young men has inspired and energized us! We have also learned the name of the mother and father. It is an easier climb back on my camel. Our strength has been renewed as well as our urgency to get to Bethlehem. The music and praise in the heavens grows louder and brighter even as the yellow and orange of the sunrise pulls us toward Jerusalem and king Herod.
We arrive in Jerusalem by mid morning. The smell of food awakens our hunger. But, our great desire to see the king as soon as possible overrides all our other senses.
There is a crowd to meet us. It is easy to notice they are not like the excited shepherds. They are curious and seem afraid and worried. Maybe it is our large caravan and the way we look. Our skin and clothes are different.
We finally arrive at the king’s palace and request audience with him. To my surprise, we are immediately invited in. A few of us go and the others mix with the growing crowd outside telling them of our journey and the new story from the shepherds which they had already heard. And of course, the children ask many questions and try to feed the camels.
The king reflects the same aura as the people outside. He looks concerned. For a moment I wonder if we made a mistake coming here.
I am the first one to speak.
In my excitement, I blurt out words without considering that I am talking to a king.
“Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
I begin to think this was not a good question and statement…asking a reigning king about a king that will rule the Jews in the future. The king struggles to stay polite and excuses himself. We can hear him calling all his wise men and priests together, who were standing close by. He tries to whisper so we can’t hear, but the cold palace lets his voice carry easily through its halls.
He is angry and demands they tell him where this Christ would be born. We hear them quote the same scrolls we studied before and after we left on our long journey. The word “Bethlehem” is heard clearly.
We look at each other with the same surprise. They have taken the words of their ancient prophets so lightly. I feel foreboding and regret rising up as the king invites us back into his private chambers.
A forced smile appears on his troubled face. He apologizes for not being more hospitable and invites us to have some food and something to drink. I am uncomfortable. The meeting is uncomfortable. We politely eat some of the food even though our hunger is of a different sort.
He asks about our trip and we tell him about our long journey, the star in the east, and the shepherds we met just outside of town. We sense we should not be telling the king anything and look for an excuse to leave quickly.
Then he asks us a question he was eager to know. It seemed to be the main reason for his talking with us hinged on this question.
“When was it you first saw the star and began journey ?”
Reluctantly, I tell him it has been almost two years. He then says in almost a whisper and an evil voice,
“Go and search for him and when you find him, bring him here to the palace that I might worship him too.”
With a jump and quick turn around, he immediately leaves us and disappears back into the palace.
The attendant escorts us back to our caravan and the crowd that has gathered. We never expected to have such a greeting. I along with my friends have become suspicious and concerned. We are glad to get back on our camels and back to following the star which has turned us south towards the sleepy little village of Bethlehem.
The sun has risen fast. It waits for no one. We continue our journey south towards Bethlehem. It is a short distance, but we travel slow enjoying the final leg of our journey. It will be dark before we arrive.
The excitement of seeing the new king of the Jews comes back to our hearts as we travel along silently contemplating the events of last night and this morning. The crowds have disappeared. We camp for the night for the day went fast, but rise in the darkness of early morning to continue our journey.
There before us, lies the twinkling lights of the little city of Bethlehem! The star is just above the peaceful town shining its clear light and casting shadows on the surrounding hill side. How beautiful it is! We feel happiness and express our joy and congratulations to each other. A journey of hundreds of miles has brought us to this moment! A small group of people come to greet us at the entrance to the village. We ask for Mary and Joseph.
The star is almost directly overhead, as a young girl escorts us to a tiny house near the edge of town.
Dismounting our camels, we hear the music again far up in the night sky. Mary greets us at the door as we crowd into the small clean home.
We feel the presence of royalty as the young toddler Jesus walks into the room. Emotions overcome us and we fall down and worship the child we know to be the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy. We have seen him in all the scrolls of the Jews many times. The face of God is in his! We can sense a power that searches our hearts. Many of us weep and then gather ourselves so we can give our gifts.
We bring in our offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and we celebrate our time with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They make our visit enjoyable and pleasant. We spend the day laughing and playing with little Jesus. I take him up in my arms and show him the camels. They are calm and peaceful as Jesus reaches out and touches them. He wants to touch all of them! Never before have I see such a face as the One who looks at me. The others demand their time to hold him, so I pass him to the other men. I still feel his warmth in my arms and on my chest. The journey has been worth every step and more. My heart wants to burst with joy! I feel alive!
The rest of the day is spent talking and eating. Too soon, our time with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus is finished. Before we leave we ask for permission to anoint Jesus with more gifts we brought. It is a special moment when we place the sweet smell upon the head of Jesus as he sits in his mother’s lap. We are content and feel the presence of God in the room and in the sparkling eyes of the little king.
I am in wonder as to why more people do not understand, that here before us is Immanuel (God with us)! This young boy will grow up to save the world from eternal death! He will pay the penalty that we deserve and teach us spiritual things about the kingdom of God! It is all in the ancient scrolls!
We wish to stay, but feel we must begin our journey back. We promise to return when the child is older. We know from the writings of the prophet Daniel, that the young child will live to be only about 30 years old and then he will sacrifice himself for the sins of the people and rise on the third day to show his power over the clutches of the grave and death.
Our wish is to return when he is older, but in the meantime, we pledge among ourselves to share, in our homeland, the good news of the birth of Jesus. We will begin to tell our story with those we will meet along the way back to our home in the west.
We say our good-byes to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and begin to head back north.
I am stopped in my tracks as I begin to consider our strange visit with king Herod.
We decide to take a different path home and head east instead of North. The king is up to some evil and we don’t want to help him in any way. We probably made a mistake visiting him and giving him information about the approximate age of the baby Jesus. It is an unfortunate turn of events. We are going to miss the young shepherd boys on the way back. I was looking forward to telling them of our visit.
The star is gone as we begin our travel home. We stop to rest when we feel we have put some distance between us and king Herod. Around the fire, we talk about our great journey and look again at scripture. We come across a disturbing message from the prophet Jeremiah:
“Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”
Soon the voices and the fire go out and we sleep…exhausted from the day and the sleep we missed the night before. I can feel the warmth of my camel next to me. The trip will be long, but it will go fast as we tell the wonderful story of Jesus.
Later, the next day, we hear the news and fulfillment of that passage in Jeremiah that troubled us. King Herod had all the male children 2 years old and younger killed. What a cruel and foolish man!
We also got news that Joseph was warned of Herod’s intention and our friends Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus escaped to the safety of Egypt.
After Herod died a few years later, Joseph took his family to a little town called Nazareth.
More fulfillment of the ancient scrolls:
“And out of Egypt, I called my son.”
Our journey to find Jesus was long and difficult, but we have been transformed by it. The scrolls, the star, the shepherds even the evil king Herod has made us wiser. But most of all, it has made us a believer in Jesus.
We will continue to study the ancient scrolls because now that we have seen Jesus ourselves, we can see Him in every story told there.
So many scrolls to read, so little time.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
My friends, join me in a Christmas worship of the One who gave all that we might have all. Let us fall on our knees this night as we think about the birth of Jesus and the visit of men who were seeking Him. They found Him! Have you?
Click here for a beautiful video and song:
Oh Holy Night!